And Suddenly It’s Spring

A brief list of things I’ve been doing other than writing –

  1. Moved to a new neighborhood! We are now 15 minutes north of Downtown Orlando where we previously lived.
  2. Sourced furniture to replace the oughts of post-collegiate life like an Ikea media console with the old candle burn we used to cover with a ceramic yellow bulldog.
  3. Downsized a wedding.
  4. Canceled the wedding.
  5. Rescheduled said micro-wedding to 2022.
  6. Consumed four Real Housewives franchises spanning across a decade of time. (Someone recently referenced knowledge of the Real Housewives universe as encyclopedic which would have annoyed me if it weren’t accurate.)
  7. Re-evaluated my relationship with alcohol as a direct result of pandemic-related banalities.
  8. Coordinated my family’s first reunion in 5 years. We’re driving to a local beach house where we’ll shelter in place with High Noons and carbs.

Gosh, it’s March again and I regret not blogging more regularly, like when the pandemic first reached critical mass in the States. I recently rewatched the clip of Donald Trump saying,

It’s going to disappear. One day — it’s like a miracle — it will disappear. And from our shores, we — you know, it could get worse before it gets better. It could maybe go away. We’ll see what happens. Nobody really knows.

February 27, 2020

and truly felt like my brain short-circuited.

Some days I still have trouble believing we existed within the same timeline that reality tv caricature Donald J. Trump appointed his son-in-law real estate developer Jared Kushner to oversee our response against the most devastating pandemic of the 21st century.

I remember the last normal day in the old world because it was my last birthday.

Upon returning from a weekend in St. Augustine together, Roy and I joined my family at the acclaimed Morimoto restaurant in Disney Springs, a highly-trafficked tourist shopping and dining destination on Disney property. Our server apologized with an awkward yet friendly chuckle about the extra-caution required as a result of the increase in Covid-19 cases, 77 a day as of that point. She sanitized our table a few times. Food-runners wore gloves. But my family and our significant others gathered, seven of us shared appetizers and drinks cautiously yet ignorantly.

After all, we had no idea what the year ahead would bring.

As I approach my birthday once again, I feel both traumatized by the dystopian realities this year has impressed upon humanity and uniquely aware that the unrelenting cup of suffering that has poured across the world has scarcely missed me.

I consider the months we’ve spent visiting the grocery store with masks on and jaws clenched, fearing we’d rub our eyes or mouth with our own hands, the hesitation we’ve felt over hugging kin, greeting neighbors, lingering too long.

Earlier this week, I thought about trying to get disinfecting wipes for my mom and conspiring against the purchase limits that were necessary thanks to individuals hoarding pallets of essentials for theirs and theirs alone.

I think about visiting my mom on her birthday last month while she was in the worst shape after her Covid diagnosis. I set up her backyard with balloons, banners, Baby Yoda decals from Party City on the sliding glass doors. My dad woke her up from an afternoon nap and she sat outside with us while holding a comforter around her shoulders. We sat 8-feet apart and laughed through two masks. There was no cake. Although our visit fell outside her contagion period, I still worried about the ethics of seeing her at all. Although she sat with us for an hour, she has no memory of this afternoon at all.

Two days later, my dad went to the hospital with Covid-induced pneumonia and I wondered once more whether I’d see Spring with both my parents.

They recovered.

Over half a million people in this country didn’t.

I have so much more I want to say but for now, I hope we may just share a moment respectfully considering the many Spring did not come for. They were someone’s loved one.

I am glad you are still here.

A Love Letter to New York

One of my best friends recently moved a couple miles from where I used to live in Brooklyn.

This friend and I have shared everything from Betty Crocker boxed brownies while sitting on her rooftop in high-school to cigarettes, clothes, secrets and grief over puppy loves lost.

Her friendship has remained one of the most consistent things in my life. Although I am thankful to be one of the people sending her off to a new chapter in the city that never sleeps, I feel a longing for the life I used to know in a world that no longer exists. I considered buying a $50 round-trip to visit her in Cobble Hill next month, but it feels irredeemably selfish to travel for pleasure while we grieve 200,000 lives lost to Covid.

If nothing else is true about New York City, it’s that no two days are the same. I used to say the city has a way of slipping into your veins, once you breathe subway air long enough a film of grit enters the bloodstream and you carry it with you the rest of your life. There’s a reason so many songs and movies are produced in ode to its bustle. NYC is dirty and unforgiving — you know they’re not lying about that.

But she was once yours, and that’s what made her beautiful to begin with.

Jacob Blake Should Be At Home With His Kids, Instead He’s Paralyzed & Under Arrest

As you’re aware, this has been a stunning week in American history. Between the grotesque perversity of democracy that was the Republican National Convention and recent events, everyone I’ve talked to recently is feeling an overdraft of bandwidth.

On Sunday night, a healthy 29-year-old Black male named Jacob Blake was shot 7 times in the back upon opening the door to the SUV where his 3 children were seated. The cops that fired were responding to a domestic incident Blake was not involved with. Witnesses say they saw Blake breaking up a fight between two women in the vicinity before he was shot by police.

To be entirely transparent, I heard the news on Monday morning and I filed the information away until I had space to reckon with it.

The headlines don’t pause for deadlines. The workday will not relent in the presence of grief or horror. Instead of processing the weekend’s events in Wisconsin, I participated in a video call with my team in my living room 1,200 miles away where discussion is limited to sanitized topics like family, weekend plans, and the weather. I wrote emails. Later that evening while protests scaled in Wisconsin, I made dinner and watched tv.

I share all this to underscore the tension between having to exist and peaceably fulfill your day-to-day responsibilities while your country’s on fire, literally and ideologically.

On Wednesday, the country woke up to the news of a 17-year-old White male opening fire on peaceful protestors, injuring 3 and killing 2. I sat in my kitchen for a while trying to reckon with the fact that citizens are being killed in the United States by other citizens simply for demanding that the state stop crushing Black and Brown bodies with impunity.

The bullets police shot into Jacob Blake’s body tore his spinal cord apart. His kidney and a fraction of his lower intestine were removed. Jacob Blake will be paralyzed for the rest of his life. And he is currently handcuffed to his hospital bed in the ICU unit he’s recovering in because police claim he is under arrest. Blake’s own father was unclear of the charges. Lieutenant Eric Klinkhammer, of the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department, told the BBC: “Mr Blake is in custody for previous felony warrants. Our policy indicates that all people in custody outside of our jail facility shall be secured with restraints.”

Blake’s mother was among the first to see him after the life-saving surgeries he underwent in the hospital and her son’s first instinct was to apologize for the grief he’d put her through. She asked him if he was the one that shot himself in the back and told him he had nothing to be sorry about.

We are living in a country where Black men are apologizing for the bullets ripping through their own lives. And I will never be okay with that. It should disturb all of us.

Because it’s bullshit.

Beyond such, have you considered the trauma Jacob Blake’s children have endured? The pain they’ll feel realizing they will never be carried by or run alongside their father again? The pain rippling through this community right now and the sear felt in the cities that have seen it all before?

I’m writing you with a heavy heart and I think that’s alright. I don’t understand anything about the age we are living in, and beyond denouncing it as evil, I won’t pretend to. I simply hope you will join me in dismantling the beast devouring the lives of our Black brothers and sisters by organizing, voting, and speaking up against injustice.

My prayers are with Jacob Blake’s family.

What’s In My Bag

Earlier this afternoon, I decided to take a trip out into the world to break up a day full of virtual meetings.

I told Roy I was headed to Target.

Once he hears Target, he knows I could be lost to him for hours, bewitched by every cozy throw and seasonal candle gracing the endcaps of the homeware aisles. But these days, I try to get in and out.

I don’t notice others very much as I am often too focused on keeping my distance and avoiding awkward semi-anonymous pandemic-era eye contact.

I do however still notice errand bags.

An errand bag is a nice purse that is both utilitarian and casual while also making a statement. In the suburbs, sometimes that statement is, “Yes, I’m a mom of three who can afford to be at Target shopping in the middle of a Wednesday afternoon with a $2,000 purse and sippy cup in hand.”

Seeing errand bags in the wild is my favorite thing ever. What can I say? I like familiarizing myself with the trends influencing your average purveyor of Target dollar aisle decorations.

I’m also conscious of the statement I’m making with my own errand bag. I like to think it’s, “I’ve prepared for this trip like it is a Girl Scout excursion and yes, vintage Louis Vuitton is timeless. Next question.”

Over the last two years, I’ve been using a Louis Vuitton Cabas Piano tote (left) as my everyday bag. My mom recently bought me a convertible backpack from Target (right).

I am obsessed with both of them and I’ll tell you why. Let’s start with the Louis Vuitton Cabas Piano tote.

My love for this bag is somewhat nostalgic. It has the signature Louis Vuitton canvas lining with an interior zipper pocket and a cell-phone pouch that was most probably designed for a Motorola Razr because it’s definitely not fitting an iPhone. At 12×10 inches, it’s the smallest Cabas tote style but roomy enough to carry an umbrella and snacks. The Cabas Piano tote (once also favored by Angelina Jolie) was discontinued in 2008 as the brand prioritized marketing for newer tote bags like the now ubiquitous Neverfull tote.

At the same time, I understand the subject of luxury handbags might carry some loaded assumptions.

When it comes to material possessions, I advise making the investment and remaining as understated as possible while doing so.

In other words, you will never see me wearing a Gucci sweatshirt and I found a 2006 edition of this bag for a quarter of its original retail price on the popular resale app Poshmark.

Once my order arrived, it was clear it had been in storage for a while — maybe even the last decade. I rehabilitated with a ton of leather conditioner, love, and TLC. Ultimately, I decided I wanted the vachetta leather (the base and trim) to look less worn, so I sold the one I’d renewed and bought another one from 2008. That’s the one I carry these days.

I briefly considered doing luxury handbag restoration and resale in a professional capacity but once style becomes work, it’s no longer fun.

This year, I’d been on the lookout for a miniature backpack for a few months after I fell in love with a Marc Jacobs bag I never committed to purchasing. My mama recently bought me this yellow one from Target and I’ve been obsessed with it ever since.

While the Cabas Piano tote is leather, the Target bag is polyester. The former requires being mindful about where you’re setting it down or whether it’s raining while the latter is carefree enough to take to a music festival.

While I do believe in the value luxury handbags add to one’s wardrobe, errand bags are not about luxury. They’re about utility.

The backpack I’m using now has a convenient front-zippered pocket for phone, lip balm, or sanitizer. It’s roomy, compact, and on-trend without feeling loud. I guess what I am saying is it just lets you to blend in. Which is a very 2020 mood. I’m keeping Louis but he might just go into storage until we find a reason to pour champagne again.

Here’s what I am carrying in my bag until then:

– Marc Jacobs keychain featuring a keychain from Groningen where Roy and I were engaged (my BFF’s hometown!), a car key and a house key (with a sunflower print on it just because)

– Neutrogena Hydro Boost water gel lotion sunscreen in SPF 30

– Ray Ban sunglasses case with prescription sunglasses inside

– Grove hand sanitizer in blood orange scent (I prefer Purell, this one’s kinda weird)

– AirPods and pom-pom guy AirPods case

– Pouch featuring an impressionist ballet scene with a mix of lip shades, floss, and hair accessories

– Daisy print mask my brother bought me because he’s rad

– Isabel Marant Smile lipstick shade in La Seine Shadow

– Too Faced Lip Injection Plumping Lip Gloss

– & of course, my phone which is being used to take photos and is thus not featured.

A woman’s bag is an intimate look into their priorities. I’ve tried to make my own practical while also capturing the things that make me thankful (daisies! 19th-century art! non-greasy sun protection!)

The details tell a story. What’s your errand bag saying?